How an Internet Dog Meme Sent the Jamaican Bobsled Team to the Winter Olympics
By Dan Casey on January 20, 2014
Such bobsled. What cryptocurrency. Much Jamaica. Many fast. That’s right, everyone, once again Jamaica has a bobsled team that has qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. One problem — they don’t have enough money to get there. Fortunately, the Internet heeded the call, thanks to a perfect storm of crowdfunding, Redditors, cryptocurrency, and an undying love for the inspirational 1993 classic Cool Runnings.
This year marks the first time since 2002 that Jamaica’s bobsled team qualified for the Winter Olympics. On Saturday, sled driver Winston Watts revealed to The Associated Press that although they had qualified, the Jamaican squad lacked the funds to make the trip. “Right now,” Watts said, “we’re at zero.” The Internet wasn’t about to take this lying down, and soon donations began rolling in.
The largest of the donations came from Reddit after a post called “Let’s send the Jamaican bobsled team to the Winter Olympics!” on the Dogecoin subreddit gained traction. For those of you not in the know, Dogecoin is a virtual currency, or cryptocurrency, a la Bitcoin, based on the popular Doge meme. Although they aren’t nearly as valuable as Bitcoin, Dogecoin recently became the world’s most traded virtual currency, a factor which almost certainly helped the call to action.
Dogecoin’s rabid userbase was able to raise 26.5 million Dogecoins, which they are in the process of converting to Bitcoin to convert to liquid assets. The 26.5 million Dogecoin converted to roughly 35 Bitcoins, which in turn equates to roughly $33,000 in cash. The charitable effort should pay off in spades for Dogecoin as well, as it has already generated good press for the joke currency-turned-real currency. There’s no word yet though on whether the team will wear a Dogecoin emblem on its gear.
In addition to the Doge dollars, the team also raised $23,000 via a Crowdtilt campaign and an additional $10,000 on Indiegogo, bringing the total close to $66,000 at the time of this writing. This is small change compared to what your average Olympic team might cost to send to the Olympics, but it looks like it will be more than enough to send Jamaica’s finest winter athletes to the icy wastes of Sochi. One thing is for sure though — the script for Cool Runnings 2 just wrote itself.
What do you think of all this? Are you a cryptocurrency suer? Sound off in the comments below or let me know on Twitter.